Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Sunday, October 14, 2012

MacKay says no to family access to interim report on suicide

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he will not clear the way for the parents of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Langridge to be involved in the final phase of the inquiry into their son’s suicide.

MacKay’s refusal brought an angry response Sunday from Langridge family lawyer Michel Drapeau, who accused the minister of ignoring the military family’s right to justice.

Trouble in Ontario jails

The birth of Gionni Lee Garlow at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre last month after his mother, a prisoner, was left in pain and alone despite her pleas for help, is shocking and demands a thorough investigation and serious answers.

Madeleine Meilleur, the minister in charge of jails in Ontario, and whose riding happens to be close by Ottawa’s detention centre, said, when contacted by the Citizen, that pregnant women in jail are supposed to get normal care just like any other woman.

“They are followed by a doctor and when they go into labour they are transferred to the hospital. That’s the normal procedure,” she said.

XL Foods Layoffs: CFIA Inspections At Beef Plant Grind To A Halt After Layoffs Announced

OTTAWA - The meat processing company at the centre of an E. coli outbreak is recalling 800 workers it laid off only a day earlier, breaking an impasse that kept federal inspectors from completing their review of the operation.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) evaluation of XL Foods ground to a halt this weekend when the firm announced it was temporarily laying off 2,000 workers. Federal inspectors said they had nothing to inspect without the workers handling the beef.

Army lacks sufficient technicians to maintain thousands of new vehicles

Canada’s army doesn’t have enough staff to maintain the thousands of new vehicles the federal government is purchasing for it over the next several years, according to a Defence Department document obtained by the Citizen.

To deal with the growing problem, army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin proposed contracting out the work to private companies but the Union of National Defence employees, which represents civilian mechanics being laid off because of government cutbacks, opposes such a move.

There may be more to the Arctic thaw than global warming

MOSCOW – Conversations with half a dozen of Russia’s top northern experts over the past few weeks have led me to several firm conclusions.

In what appears to be a deliberate tension-reducing mode, the Russians I spoke with carefully stressed how potentially explosive issues such as which of the countries with competing claims in the Arctic Ocean – Russia, Canada, Denmark (for Greenland) and the U.S. – will get what share of the top of the world must be achieved through consultation rather than by provocative rhetoric or actions.

EU drug demands would cost Canadians up to $2B a year: federal research

OTTAWA - Confidential federal research on free-trade talks with Europe shows that giving the European Union just one part of what it wants on drug patents would cost Canadians up to $2 billion a year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has always insisted it’s a "myth" that the Canada-EU free trade deal would increase health costs.

Canadian troops serving with allies in Afghanistan cleared for combat

OTTAWA - National Defence successfully pushed the Harper government last year to ease the prohibition on Canadian troops from setting foot in Kandahar and participating in combat operations by establishing an exemption for those serving with allies, internal documents reveal.

It is a decision that violates both the spirit and the letter of the Parliament motion that led to the country's exit from the Afghan war, the opposition charged.

The XL Foods Crisis: Is the media asking the right questions?

Postmedia News, owner of Alberta's two largest newspapers, was so relieved when one of the brothers who own troubled XL Foods Ltd. in this province's southeast finally emerged and apologized for the E. coli mess at the company's meatpacking plant the Edmonton Journal devoted a massive four-line headline to the story.

Normally, this is the sort of treatment reserved for humans landing in another part of the solar system or reports of the second coming, not a pro-forma apology, late and barely better than never, from one of the low-profile owners of the massive slaughterhouse in the town of Brooks.

Walmart Strike Memo Reveals Confidential Management Plans

Walmart launched a large-scale response this week to a series of unprecedented labor strikes, according to a confidential document obtained by The Huffington Post.

The seven-page internal memo, issued Oct. 8, is intended for salaried employees only, and contains instructions on how to respond to strikes by hourly workers that spread to 28 Walmart stores in 12 cities earlier this week. The strikes were the first by Walmart retail employees in the company’s 50-year history.

Arthur Allen Email: CEO Of ASG Software Solutions Asks Workers To Vote For Mitt Romney

Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG Software Solutions, emailed employees about voting for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, suggesting their jobs may be at stake if they don’t.

In the email, obtained by MSNBC's "Up w/ Chris Hayes," Allen asked his employees to "give us one more chance to stay independent by voting in a new President and administration," noting that "that chance goes away" if Obama stays in office.

Our Lizard-Brain Politics

My cabdriver grew chatty when I asked him to take me crosstown to Columbia. “Do you work there?” he asked. “How much do students pay to attend?” He wanted to know because “in my country, all education is free. I didn’t have to pay to go to university.” I didn’t ask him where he came from, but it could have been any number of places: Norway, Barbados, Brazil, Cuba, Malta, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Tobago, Hungary…

He was driving a cab to earn money while he pursues graduate work and was upset by a conversation he’d had with earlier passengers. It was the day after the first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, and they had praised him for his English and his “articulateness” about politics. But when he mentioned the fact that his higher education had been free, one of them sneered, “So how much was that worth, now that you’re driving a cab in America?”

Why Conservatives Don't Really Want the U.S. to Run Like a Business

Earlier this week, Florida timeshare mogul David Siegel sent an email to his company's 7,000 employees imploring them to vote for Mitt Romney. He didn't quite threaten their jobs; instead, Siegel argued that if Obama raised taxes on the wealthy any time in the next four years, it would be so devastating that'd he'd be forced to start laying people off. The letter was published on Gawker, and now Siegel, never a bashful sort -- he and his wife are building a 90,000-square-foo house they've nicknamed Versailles, after all -- has explained himself to Bloomberg Businessweek.

"If only businessmen voted in the election, Romney would win 99 to 1," he told the magazine. "The United States is like a big company, and we need a CEO to run it."

William Koch, Billionaire Koch Brother, Accused Of Imprisoning Executive

Billionaire William Koch is facing a lawsuit in federal court from a former top-level employee who claims the energy mogul lured him to a secluded property, where he was imprisoned and interrogated for a period of time, according to a report in Courthouse News.

John Houston Scott, an attorney for Kirby Martenson, a former executive for a number of Koch subsidiaries, confirmed the story to HuffPost, adding that he guessed the case could go to trial in a year.

Gun Crime Canada: Firearm-Related Crimes Cost Canadians $3.1 Billion In 2008, Justice Department Says

OTTAWA - Crimes involving guns cost Canadians more than $3 billion a year, suggests an internal Justice Department study that may stoke the gun-control debate.

The newly released report examined all firearm-related crime in 2008, and calculated costs across a broad range, including the value of policing and prosecuting offenders, lost income and even burial fees for victims.

The total came to $3.1 billion, or about $93 for every person in the country, says the study, completed last year by two federal researchers.

Conservative MP’s scholarship doesn’t pass the smell test: Angus

Conservative MP Susan Truppe may have violated the federal government’s ethics rules by arranging for two corporations, including one that lobbied her earlier this year, to fund a scholarship in her name.

NDP MP Charlie Angus says the Susan Truppe International Day of the Girl Scholarship unveiled this week appears to be a clear violation of the guidelines that govern MPs.

Prime Minister Harper’s foreign policy hobbled by ideology

Stephen Harper has gone back to Africa after five years. In 2007, he went to Uganda for the Commonwealth summit. Now he’s in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Francophonie summit. He has taken a side trip to Senegal to do what politicians love: handing out a cheque — in this case, for food aid to the Sahel region. But there are signs that he is also beginning to see Africa’s economic growth as a trade opportunity for Canada, as seen in Foreign Minister John Baird’s recent trade trip to Nigeria.

The Province of Northern Ontario

George Orwell warned us. Somehow he knew that the future would be marked by the use of words that mean one thing but that mean another.

I’m thinking of this because I came across the use of one of these doublespeak words while looking up an article for this post.


Indigenous Nations in Canada face humanitarian crisis

This blog post is not an official report, but is modeled off situation reports from international groups and organizations about specific crises in other countries. Canada portrays itself as a model nation but always hides the darker side of the historic genocide perpetrated on Indigenous peoples and the aggressive assimilatory actions it is taking currently -- which only serve to make poverty in First Nations much worse.

Staff at XL Foods shocked by layoffs

Staff and union officials attached to the embattled XL Foods meat processing plant in Alberta expressed shock after the company said Saturday it is temporarily laying off almost all of its employees — 2,000 out of approximately 2,200.

"The employees have a fear, they don't understand what is going on," said Abdi Nasir Guir, a worker at the Brooks, Alta. plant which remains at the centre of an international beef recall because of E. coli contamination.

PM wants next Francophonie summit held in a democracy

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he's glad he attended the summit of French-speaking nations but hopes the next one is held in a country that promotes democratic values.

Harper admitted Sunday that he had definite reservations about taking part in this weekend's international gathering of la Francophonie in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Roma in Hungary feel persecuted but they have nowhere to turn

GYONGYOSPATA, HUNGARY—They called themselves a neighbourhood watch.

On March 1, 2011, at least 2,000 members of a right-wing paramilitary group called the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future rolled into this sleepy former coal-mining village 80 kilometres east of Budapest.

Wearing black uniforms and hats, they pledged to help police maintain law and order and stamp out “Gypsy criminality.”

'The courage to say no to misogyny': Statement on the attack against 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai remains in hospital after being shot in the head by members of a faction of the Taliban in Pakistan. Only 14, Yousafzai received international notoriety soon after her "Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl" was published by the BBC in 2009.

Owais Tohid, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, reported that young Malala was motivated by another women's rights activist with the same namesake:

"The first time I met Malala, a couple of years ago, I asked her what her name signified. She answered: 'Probably, a hero like the Afghan heroine Malalai [of Maiwand] or Malalai Joya. I want to be a social activist and an honest politician like her,' she said, smiling. Ms. Joya, a 30-something activist, politician, and writer who was bitterly critical of both the Taliban and the Karzai regime, was at one point dubbed the bravest woman of Afghanistan."